Question of the Week: 1/30-2/5/23

In your opinion which location along the Mississippi River was most important during the Civil War? Why?

8 Responses to Question of the Week: 1/30-2/5/23

  1. New Orleans. The largest city in the Confederacy, its capture in 1862 opened a whole new battlefront and caused an international sensation. The city then became a major Union base for the rest of the war.

  2. New Orleans is my guess as well – without NOLA, the Union can not continue with it’s campaign to go up and down river… and though there were other ports that the confederancy could run, NOLA was a critical loss.

  3. Cairo, Illinois. It became an army and navy base of operations for all the Union offenses along the Mississippi, Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. It prevented a southern thrust north along the Mississippi protecting the Midwest markets and manufacturing.

  4. Taking New Orleans(Nawlins) was the key to Scott’s Anaconda Plan, which dictated choking out the Southern economy with a naval blockade of the ports along the Gulf and controlling traffic down the Mississippi, splitting the South and shutting off access to grain from Texas and wartime supplies from Mexico. The goods of the entire Mississippi River Valley came out of New Orleans, so it’s capture was paramount and had to be done relatively early in the execution of the Plan.

  5. New Orleans. This city was a choke point preventing blockade runners from using the Mississippi River/Delta and gave whichever army occupied the city a ready-made base of operations against upriver locations.

  6. As the puzzle pieces dumped from the Secession box began to be assembled and take recognizable shape it became apparent that the Mississippi River would become a Confederate lake. So, with individual states seizing armouries and forts in the South, one Northern state launched an operation soon after the firing on Fort Sumter and took military control of the strategic Mississippi River port at Cairo Illinois. Cairo, at the southern end of the Illinois Central Railroad became staging ground for significant Union operations in the west, including Belmont, Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, the massive build-up at Pittsburg Landing, and the Naval operations against Fort Columbus, Island No.10, and Confederate Memphis. As B.D. Kowell suggests, without Cairo, Union forces would have had difficulty conducting a successful operation to regain control of the Mississippi River.
    When the firing took place at Fort Sumter, the Confederates had not yet benefited from the secession of Arkansas or Tennessee. But the first military operation attempted in the west against a Union (border) state was at St. Louis… which may indicate “how far up the Mississippi” the CSA intended to assert control. Unfortunately for the Rebels gathered together in May 1861 at Camp Jackson, threatening the St. Louis Arsenal on the Mississippi River, Union officer Nathaniel Lyon interpreted their movements correctly and disrupted Rebel preparations to seize the Arsenal (the momentum gained from a successful seizure of 10000 muskets may have resulted in St. Louis, and then all of Missouri falling under Rebel control.)

  7. Agree about New Orleans. It’s seizure was definitely a turning point in the War. It opened up a lot of options for the Union while denying the same to the Confederates.

  8. Is Vicksburg a too-obvious answer?
    To Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Vicksburg was the “nailhead that holds the South’s two halves together.”

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